June Jordan

J
June Jordan
Democracy Poem #1
Tell them that I stood
in line
and I waited
and I waited
like everybody
else

But I never got
called
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Poem for Haruko
I never thought I’d keep a record of my pain
or happiness
like candles lighting the entire soft lace
of the air
around the full length of your hair/a shower
organized by God
in brown and auburn
undulations luminous like particles
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1977: Poem for Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer
You used to say, “June?
Honey when you come down here you
supposed to stay with me. Where
else?”
Meanin home
against the beer the shotguns and the
point of view of whitemen don’
never see Black anybodies without
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39
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Apologies to All the People in Lebanon
Dedicated to the 600,000 Palestinian men, women, and children who lived in Lebanon from 1948-1983. I didn’t know and nobody told me and what
could I do or say, anyway?

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In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr.
I

honey people murder mercy U.S.A.
the milkland turn to monsters teach
to kill to violate pull down destroy
the weakly freedom growing fruit
from being born

America

tomorrow yesterday rip rape
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It’s Hard to Keep a Clean Shirt Clean
Poem for Sriram Shamasunder
And All of Poetry for the People It’s a sunlit morning
with jasmine blooming
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July 4, 1974
Washington, D.C. At least it helps me to think about my son
a Leo/born to us
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Letter to the Local Police
Dear Sirs:

I have been enjoying the law and order of our
community throughout the past three months since
my wife and I, our two cats, and miscellaneous
photographs of the six grandchildren belonging to
our previous neighbors (with whom we were very
close) arrived in Saratoga Springs which is clearly
prospering under your custody
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On the Loss of Energy (and Other Things)
no more the chicken and the egg come

one of them
before the other
both
be fadin (steady)
from the supersafeway/a&p/giant
circus

uh-huh
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A Poem about Intelligence for My Brothers and Sisters
A few years back and they told me Black
means a hole where other folks
got brain/it was like the cells in the heads
of Black children was out to every hour on the hour naps
Scientists called the phenomenon the Notorious
Jensen Lapse, remember?
Anyway I was thinking
about how to devise
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Poem about My Rights
Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
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Poem for My Love
How do we come to be here next to each other
in the night
Where are the stars that show us to our love
inevitable
Outside the leaves flame usual in darkness
and the rain
falls cool and blessed on the holy flesh
the black men waiting on the corner for
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Poem for Nana
What will we do
when there is nobody left
to kill?

*

40,000 gallons of oil gushing into
the ocean
But I
sit on top this mountainside above
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Problems of Translation: Problems of Language
Dedicated to Myriam Díaz-Diocaretz 1

I turn to my Rand McNally Atlas.
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A Song for Soweto
At the throat of Soweto
a devil language falls
slashing
claw syllables to shred and leave
raw
the tongue of the young
girl
learning to sing
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